Obama doubles down on energy—doubles up on lies
posted at 12:09 pm on March 23, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
“The American people aren’t stupid,” the president declared in one of his weekly addresses in February. His seeming vote of confidence in our ability to see through the fog of politics and sort out fact from fiction came ironically in a speech on energy—a topic he has been enlarging on frequently of late and will continue to do as the election season heats up.
This week he visited four western states, regaling voters with tales of his all-of-the-above approach to solving the problem of bloated gasoline prices and explaining how the alternative proposed by the GOP (aka Flat Earth Society)—to “drill our way out of this problem”—won’t work.
If only the choice were so simple, the alternatives so stark. If that were the case, the president wouldn’t need to test his own claim about Americans’ intelligence by repeatedly and systematically insulting it by feeding them a steady diet of lies. The list—and the president’s nose—grows longer each day.
On Wednesday, two days ago, in an interview with American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” Obama said with a straight face:
Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn’t gone bankrupt. Part of the reason they did was because the Chinese were subsidizing their solar industry and flooding the market in ways that Solyndra couldn’t compete. But understand: This was not our program, per se. Congress—Democrats and Republicans—put together a loan guarantee program because they understood historically that when you get new industries, it’s easy to raise money for startups, but if you want to take them to scale, oftentimes there’s a lot of risk involved, and what the loan guarantee program was designed to do was to help startup companies get to scale. [Emphasis added]
Compare this statement with the president’s remarks, captured on video, at the newly taxpayer-funded Solyndra plant in Fremont, California on May 26, 2010, when he boasted:
Less than a year ago, we were standing on what was an empty lot. But through the Recovery Act, this company received a loan to expand its operations. This new factory is the result of those loans.
Two points worth noting: (1) In his more recent comments, he claims that his administration was blindsided by China’s aggressive positioning in solar energy market. But in the video from 2010, he specifically identified the Chinese and other “competitors” around the world who are “are waging a historic effort to lead in developing new energy technology” and posited that the U.S. can’t afford to “play for second place.” (2) In the video, he calls out Republicans by name for their complicity in having underwritten the Solyndra loan guarantee. But how does this notion of “shared blame” for the failure of the Solyndra gamble square with his current excoriation of the same GOP as the Flat Earth Society?
On Wednesday (it was a busy day for the re-election campaign), the president also took credit for “directing his administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles,” and approve the expansion of a portion of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline running from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf of Mexico.
A couple niggling problems with Obama’s boast: (1) The portion of the pipeline he is referring to doesn’t require federal approval. (2) A three-year geologic survey that he now cites as “green lighting” work on this southern expansion of the pipeline also justifies work on the bulk of the project, which he rejected.
Other half-truths that the administration has been peddling include:
- The claim that the U.S. uses 20% of the world’s supply of petroleum while producing only 2%. Even the Washington Post is able to see through this false bill of goods, the explanation for which begins with the difference between “proven resources”—oil, natural gas, or coal reserves that are current actual assets—and estimated resources. Depending on whom you ask, the estimated supply of unrecovered energy assets in the nation is anywhere from 8 times the proven resources to many times larger than the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia.
- The claim that oil production under this administration is the highest it’s been in 8 years. As I noted in an earlier column, the oil being produced in the U.S. today is the result of permits issued during previous administrations. The president is being willfully deceitful when he brags that exploration on the whole is up.
- The claim that he favors an all-of-the-above approach. To paraphrase another Democratic president, it depends on how you define “all-of-the-above.” The current White House defines it as excluding nuclear energy, hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking,” which would make available enough fuel oil to last the nation at least a century), and the aforementioned pipeline, which would also create jobs.
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